Formula One

 
          === Vettel, Alonso set to battle for F1 title in Brazil ===
 
 Sao  Paulo,  Brazil (Sports Network)  - The  2012 Formula One season concludes
 this weekend with the Brazilian Grand Prix.
 
 Heading  into the final round of F1's record 20-grand prix schedule this year,
 Red  Bull's  Sebastian Vettel holds a  13-point lead over Fernando Alonso from
 Ferrari. Vettel is attempting to win his third consecutive world championship,
 which  would make him  just the third driver in the sport's 63-year history to
 accomplish the feat. Juan Manuel Fangio won four titles in a row from 1954-77,
 and Michael Schumacher captured five straight from 2000-04.
 
 Vettel  will  clinch the championship  if he finishes  fourth or better in the
 Brazilian  GP,  regardless of  where  Alonso  finishes.  Vettel will  also  be
 guaranteed the title if he places either fifth, sixth or seven and Alonso does
 not   win  the  race.  Alonso  must  finish  on  the  podium  (third-place  or
 better).  If  he doesn't, Vettel will  win the championship no matter where he
 places.
 
 Vettel  has  placed no worse  than fourth in the  last four Brazilian GPs. The
 25-year-old German won the race in 2010 and finished second in it last year.
 
 "I  think the circuit  seemed to suit our car in previous years," Vettel said.
 "I think we need to confirm it. So all eyes on Friday (practice), to start the
 weekend and to get into the groove. I think we can be as confident as we could
 in this stage. We know there is a lot ahead, but we are in a great position."
 
 Vettel  has finished  on the  podium in  the last  six grand  prix. He  won in
 Singapore,  Japan,  Korea and India before  placing third in Abu Dhabi earlier
 this  month and  then second  in  last Sunday's  United States  Grand Prix  in
 Austin, Texas.
 
 Red Bull wrapped up its third straight constructors' title in Austin.
 
 Alonso will clinch his third F1 world championship if he wins the Brazilian GP
 and  Vettel finishes fifth  or lower. Alonso will also capture the title if he
 places  second  and Vettel  is eighth  or worse,  or if  he finishes third and
 Vettel  is  10th or lower. The  Spaniard's first two titles came consecutively
 from 2005-06 when he drove for Renault.
 
 "I  will treat this  as a normal weekend, trying to score as many points as we
 can,"  Alonso said.  "It would  be good  to finish  on the  podium to  score a
 minimum  of 15  points, and  then when  we cross  the line,  we can  see where
 Sebastian  is  and try to do  the numbers. The  podium and the chance to score
 more  than 13  points is our first priority.  What Red Bull does is not in our
 hands,  but we don't have much to lose. We can only win, so we will try and do
 our best."
 
 If  both drivers were  to conclude the season tied in points, Vettel would win
 the championship by virtue of his five wins compared to Alonso's three. Alonso
 has not won a grand prix since July 22 in Germany.
 
 Two  years ago, Alonso entered the season-finale, which was held in Abu Dhabi,
 with  an eight-point  lead over Vettel's teammate, Mark Webber. Vettel trailed
 by 14 points.
 
 Vettel  won in  Abu Dhabi one week  after taking the checkered flag in Brazil.
 Alonso  finished seventh  and Webber  eighth, allowing  Vettel to  capture the
 championship by four points over Alonso and 14 ahead of Webber.
 
 Could this be the year that Alonso leapfrogs Vettel to take the title.
 
 "This  is  Formula One and  anything can happen  right to the checkered flag,"
 Alonso  said. "We will try and do the best we can and try to cross the line on
 the podium. If we win, we will be very happy, but we know we need some strange
 combination  of  a result. If we  don't win, we will congratulate (Vettel) and
 try again next year."
 
 Vettel echoed the same sentiment.
 
 "I  think anything can happen," he said. "We have been in the game long enough
 to  know  how quickly the winds  can change, not only  for us but also for our
 competitors.  What we  have  to do  is  go into  the race  as  focused and  as
 determined  as we  were (last) weekend. We have to squeeze everything possible
 out of the race."
 
 This  weekend's Brazilian  GP, contested on the 2.677-mile, 15-turn Interlagos
 circuit, will not only decide the drivers' title but feature the last race for
 seven-time  F1 champion  Michael  Schumacher  and the  final  event for  Lewis
 Hamilton  as a  McLaren  driver.  After the  season  concludes, Schumacher  is
 retiring from the sport, while Hamilton will take over his ride at Mercedes.
 
 Schumacher has been with Mercedes since he came out of his first retirement in
 2010.  The 43-year-old  German has struggled in his three years with the team,
 recording  only one podium finish -- a third-place run in this year's European
 Grand Prix. He has finished 11th or worse in the last six races.
 
 "Interlagos  is the right place to round off my career, because so much of the
 fascination  of  Formula One is  rooted there," Schumacher said. "My departure
 from  Formula  One will  probably be less  emotional for me  this time than in
 2006, when we were still fighting for the championship and everything was much
 more  intense.  This time round,  I will  be able to  pay more attention to my
 farewell and hopefully savor it."
 
 Hamilton, the 2008 F1 titleholder, has been with McLaren since his 2007 rookie
 season,  scoring 21 victories, including four this year. The Brit is currently
 fourth in the point standings (-83). He won in Austin.
 
 "It's  quite a unique experience for me," Hamilton said. "I've obviously never
 been  in  the situation I'm in  this weekend, where  it's my last race for the
 team  I grew up  in. It's going to be a tough one. Nonetheless, we're going to
 push as hard as we can, as we did in the last race, and try to win. I've never
 won here before."
 
 Mexico's  Sergio  Perez will replace  Hamilton and  team with Jenson Button at
 McLaren next year. Perez is in his second season in F1, driving for Sauber.
 
 Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, Nov. 25. Race: Brazilian Grand Prix. Site:
 Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Interlagos. Track: 2.677-mile (5.470-kilometer),
 15-turn road course. Start Time: 11 a.m. (et). Laps: 71. Miles: 190.067
 (305.909 km). 2011 Winner: Mark Webber. Television: Speed.
 
 11/22 14:22:27 ET

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